By Dale Bredesen, M.D., Chief Science Officer for Apollo Health

The Nobel Prizes, annual awards whose announcement is coming up in just a few weeks, were established by Alfred Nobel’s will of 1895 and are awarded to “those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind.” Of course, the committee isn’t perfect in its choices, and over the years, there have been prizes given to what turned out to be a false cancer cause (1926) and for frontal lobotomy, among many others. But even when the committee members “get it right,” they rarely follow Alfred Nobel’s directive. What would it look like if the committee actually did honor the most impactful benefits to the world’s major healthcare problems? 

Let’s consider this possibility and dub this idea the “Noble Prize.” What discoveries and developments have truly changed the medical landscape, potentially saving millions of lives? Well, I have three nominees for this Noble Prize. The first is Dr. Lee Hood, a prolific inventor (of the DNA sequencer that allowed the sequencing of the human genome, automated peptide sequencer, DNA synthesizer, and on and on) who is now focused on the prevention of all chronic illness, as discussed in his book, The Age of Scientific Wellness. His inventions and current work will reduce disease for millions, and although he has already received the Medal of Science from then-President Obama, his global impact is highly deserving of the Noble Prize, as well.

The second nominee is Dr. Jeffrey Bland, the father of functional medicine. It is difficult to overstate the tectonic shift that functional medicine (which could also be called rational medicine since it makes so much more sense than the current standard of care) is having on medical practice and on patient outcomes. From lupus to multiple sclerosis to rheumatoid arthritis to cardiovascular disease to cancer —and the list just keeps growing — functional medicine effects outcomes that simply have not been achieved with standard-of-care medicine.  The sooner that medical schools wake up and begin to teach functional medicine in earnest, the more patients who will be saved.

The third and final nominee is Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, who coined the term “chronic inflammatory response syndrome” (CIRS) and has made us all aware of the depth and breadth of mycotoxin illness. The ramifications of this all-too-common and poorly understood illness complex will likely continue to be defined for decades to come and should lead to improved outcomes for neurodegenerative disease, cancer, autoimmune disease, and others. While some argue with a few of Dr. Shoemaker’s specific protocol suggestions, few argue with his remarkable contribution to our understanding of disease.  

These three nominees have in common their deep insight into Brobdingnagian health needs, and their insights will undoubtedly save millions of lives over the years. Now, that is the type of impact of which Alfred Nobel would heartily approve.   

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